After two straight seasons of COVID-19 disruptions, NBA commissioner Adam Silver expects things to return to normal for 2021/22, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Speaking at his annual All-Star weekend press conference, which was held virtually this year because of the virus, Silver said the league foresees a traditional October start for next season with little or no limits on attendance.
“I’m fairly optimistic, at this point, that we will be able to start on time,” he said. “Roughly half our teams have fans in their arenas right now and, if vaccines continue on the pace they are and they continue to be as effective as they have been against the virus and its variants, we’re hopeful that we’ll have relatively full arenas next season as well.”
Those plans don’t include the overseas trips that several teams usually make during the preseason. Silver said those won’t resume until at least 2022.
Silver also addressed the financial toll that COVID-19 has taken on the league, which had 171 games canceled last season and will lose at least 150 this year. Revenue projections for 2019/20 fell about $1.5 billion short, and similar losses are expected this season.
“Last season and this season has required a significant investment on the part of the team owners,” Silver said. “They accept that. Players will end up taking a reduction in salary this season because they are partners with the league and teams on revenue. League executives, team executives have all taken haircuts on their salary. But I think when we all step back, we all feel very fortunate to be working under these circumstances and my sense is the players feel the same way.”
Silver touched on several other topics during his session with reporters:
- No “concrete plans” are in place to resume Summer League play this year in Las Vegas, Reynolds notes. The NBA Finals could finish as late as July 22, which is about when the Summer League usually wraps up. “I think we’re going to end up (with) maybe an abbreviated Summer League, mini-camps and other opportunities,” Silver said. “Everything’s on the table now.”
- Silver has talked to NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts about eliminating the one-and-done rule and allowing 18-year-olds to enter the NBA draft, Reynolds adds. The commissioner indicated the issue could be considered when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is negotiated.
- The NBA won’t require anyone to take the COVID-19 vaccine, but Silver believes “most players” will opt to get it, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Bontemps points out that it’s a way for players to get away from frequent testing and mandatory quarantines. “My hunch is that most players ultimately will choose to get vaccinated,” Silver said. “They have to make personal decisions at the end of the day — and I take that very seriously, and I take concerns very seriously. But my sense is most (players) will, ultimately, decide it is in their interest to get vaccinated.”